Tribes: Ascend Review - F2P Shazbot Shooter

Game:Tribes: Ascend
Ten Ton Hammer
Ten Ton Hammer Rating

Multiplayer - 82 / 100

How can the biggest teamplay shooter in recent years not have VOIP in-game? There’s a certain level of coordination required to break down a couple of stalwart flag defenders and make a clean capture, and it’s incredibly difficult to achieve in your typical match-made game. The in-game voice hotkeys work to some extent, but you can’t shout at a heavy who just broke down the enemy defense to clear out of your way since you’re flying at the flag at 200+ speed--next thing you know, he just casually waltzes onto the flag and you fly by with a whole lot of nothing in your hands.

Heavy on Flag, or HoF is a critical role that puts you in the line of fire constantly. But someone has to stop those pesky lights flying in at light speed to take your flag and disappear into the sunset before anyone can draw a bead on them.!

Some of the private/VIP custom server stuff has yet to be fully integrated as well, which is a shame. But despite a couple critical flaws here, the base game is every bit as fun as you remember it--or possibly more fun than you've ever had with an FPS if you're new to the series.

Value - 95 / 100

You can unlock all you need to be competitive in Tribes: Ascend relatively quickly--only a couple classes are essential roles that you don’t start with, and the weapons are largely optional unless you’re playing a Technician. All items can be obtained with in-game experience points, so there’s no pay-to-win pressure. That doesn’t stop 100k experience from being an incredibly daunting number, and even with a purchase of gold and a booster, it will still take you a couple of weeks to get.

But since the base package has a light spinfusor class, a heavy mortar class, and a jack of all trades--you really don’t need a whole lot more in your basic team. Only once you start playing more competitively or with friends will you actually need additional classes to function well--and by then you can probably unlock them naturally. Any purchase of in-game gold permanently multiplies your experience rate by 50%, which then stacks with the 100% boosters so.... the potential for multiplying your growth exponentially for ten bucks is there if you want to unlock a ton in a hurry and forever boost your gains.

Lasting Appeal - 87 / 100

I always thought it was a joke that a free-to-play game was being developed as successor to Tribes 2 but now I see that it actually is a successor. Even though the bases and loadouts were simplified, the core gameplay and disc-launching action remains true and Hi-Rez has done a great job of listening to the community and making positive changes to the game. Perhaps most importantly, I don’t feel obligated to put any money into the game to have a good time, and if I did, I’d only have to give up dinner out for a night to get great returns forever on my experience earned in the game. It’s a beautiful business model that provides ample return on your purchases, but doesn’t require you to make them to unlock core gameplay elements or be competitive!

Pros and Cons


  • Familiar gameplay to Tribes vets, fresh to those new to series, and just fun!
  • This is my favorite F2P cash shop model in any action game.
  • The long arc of a mortar, the impact of a mid-air disc... the scope, speed, and skill of this game are top notch and a breath of fresh air to the market.


  • Eye candy won’t blow your mind
  • Some more customization would be nice--additional voices, female models, etc.
  • Possibly too late for the franchise. Does anyone under 20 even know what Tribes is these days?


Tribes: Ascendis a game that is just fun as hell. It has something for everyone, not only the Tribes fans. If you don’t like the skiing, pilot a vehicle. If you don’t like the flag capping, defend your generator. If you don’t like shooting midair, repair and upgrade your defenses. Hell, if you want to set up shop and play it like a modern FPS, you can play Sentinel, deploy a jamming pack atop a hill and snipe all day. It’s a fun mix of great gameplay elements combined with a F2P model that doesn’t demand you pull out your wallet to have fighting chance against the opposition, and has production values that will have you forgetting that you didn’t buy this game retail to begin with.

Overall 91/100 - Outstanding


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